“Hell’s Kitchen” casting calls were not hell at all (hell would mean not having 64 oz of coffee in the morning). I found the experience pleasant and I didn’t have a conversation with “Diablo”.  A few days ago, I headed to Philadelphia to audition for this Fox Channel reality show. Traveling by train to the home of Mike Schmidt, Dr.J, Ron Jaworski, and the Penn Relays. I was able to relax, enjoy the ride, and ponder what the experience would be like. Gordon Ramsey has quite a reputation of screaming in people’s faces and belittling contestants with great tenacity. Having taught at the middle school level for many years, I actually have very little fear of being screamed at; coupled with, some of my coaches growing up, may well be friends with Gordon. Upon my arrival to the train station, it was a quick cab ride to the Westin Hotel in downtown Philly. My heart was pounding and my anxiety rose. I felt like I was about to run a race. Not a 5km type of anxiety, but running in the 4×400 in the Masters Division at the Millrose Games kind of anxiety. When I exited the taxi, I was directed to the Georgian Room in the lobby area of the hotel. As I walked into the room, I saw a sea of people in chefs coats chatting. It was a nostalgic feeling for me. Considering I haven’t worked in a restaurant for several years, it took me back to the “energy” that exists in that culture. Instantly my comfort level rose, and my anxiety dissipated.

My competition 🙂 took this picture of me on my phone!!! As you can see, I went with the television/going out to Happy Hour look. Not the I am working on the line in the kitchen look!!

When each person approached the sign in table they were handed a clipboard with a collection of 35 questions. Mine had 101 on the top right hand corner. As I entered the room, they yelled “Number 6”. Oh lord, what on Earth was I going to do for the next “x” amount of hours. I started by reading a book, moving on to a magazine, then my to do list, sadly I didn’t have the laptop so no blogging. After an hour we were only on “number 12”. At that point, I had to make my way to the “restaurant/lounge” area of this lovely hotel. Over some truffle french fries and a beverage,  I chatted with Sophie the bartender about her life in Hungary and how excited I was to be around all of this positive energy. Many of the contestants came in for some light lunch and it was nice to see everyone so supportive of one another. Where are you from? Do you work in a restaurant? What is your favorite dish to prepare? We all talked like old friends. After my many hours of waiting, including a visit from an old college friend to help me pass my time, it was my turn. As I jumped up with great enthusiasm, my heart started pounding again. I walked down a little hallway and entered a small conference type room. The two talent agents were in there firing away questions. In all honesty, in my nervous state I can’t remember my interviewers name, but she was pleasant and made me feel at ease. While reviewing my application, she wanted to know why I would be good on the show. There was a pause on my part because I don’t really react to people yelling at me in the manner that Gordon Ramsey does. There are no anger management issues on my part or personality quirks that would have everyone on the show hating me. I explained I would like to show case myself as a cook. Share my talents with the world. Not from behind my laptop, but under the pressure of a competitive light. Delighted with my personality and she really was 🙂 she told me they would send me an e-mail for a follow-up interview and video taping in New York. No matter what happens, it was a great opportunity for me. I will continue to push myself and cross uncharted waters. There is no recipe today, but this week I will be getting you ready for summer dining and entertaining so stay tuned!!!

Remember…Who Do You Want In Your Kitchen On Game Day?